Saint Julie Billiart
St. Julie Billiart was canonized by Pope Paul VI on June 22, 1969, the same year that our parish was founded. St. Julie’s Parish in North Dartmouth became the first church in the United States to be dedicated to the new saint.
St. Julie Billiart founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who established Bishop Stang High School, our neighbor to the North.
She was born Marie Rose Julie Billiart on July 12, 1751, in Cuvilly, France. Her family had a farm and they also owned a drapery shop. As a girl, she could be found teaching catechism to other children, and this became her vocation.
The failure of her family’s business in her teen years, and the shock of witnessing the attempted murder of her father, when she was 21, left Julie severely weakened. By the age of 31, she was unable to walk and eventually became bedridden, yet she never lost her spirit. When the French Revolution started a few years later, she hid fugitive priests. This put her in danger and she was forced to flee her home.
In 1794, when she was 43, she went to Amiens, where she met Francoise Blin deBourdon, later know as Mother St. Joseph. The two, under the direction of Father Varin D’Ainville, founded a religious community that developed into the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The new order was dedicated to the Christian education of girls and poor children, and the training of religious teachers. Under the direction of Julie, the order flourished and she became Superior General. In 1804, after a novena during a mission in Amiens, a priest ordered Julie to walk – and she did. She had been an invalid for 22 years.
Julie Billiart died April 8, 1816, in Namur, Belgium at the age of 66. At the time of her death, 15 convents had been established by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Her favorite saying was “How good is the good God!”